Disney appears to have suffered yet another “Oops” moment as the Evel Knievel estate sue them over not getting their permission to use his likeness in Toy Story 4‘s Duke Caboom (voiced by Keanu Reeves…yes, John Wick, I know). It appears Disney is doing a lot of that nowadays.
When we all saw Duke Caboom in Toy Story 4, we instantly thought “Canadian Evel Knievel”. Even those who didn’t recognize him likely thought that he looked familiar. So naturally, we all assumed Disney got the Evel Knievel estate’s permission to use his likeness for the movie, right?
The Evel Knievel Affair: Yet Another Disney Fail
Well, as it turns out: no. According to TMZ, Disney did not, in fact, get any kind of permission to use Evel Knievel’s likeness to create Duke Caboom for Toy Story 4. Understandably, K&K Promotions, who manage the late Evel Knievel’s image, likeness, etc., are filing suit over this. Heck, they even claim that Duke Caboom himself bears an uncanny resemblance to an Evel Knievel toy from the 1970’s. The toy even comes with its own wind-up launcher, just like Duke Caboom did.
To make the matter look even more scummy on Disney’s part, K&K Productions even claim that Disney explicitly ordered everyone involved in Toy Story 4‘s production to avoid using Evel Knievel’s name, specifically to use his likeness through a loophole without having to pay a cent to Evel Knievel’s estate. K&K claim that this is exactly the same as how Tony Hale (who voiced Forky in Toy Story 4) carefully avoided using the word “spork” during interviews.
Now, to be fair on the spork issue, no one can agree on who owns the word, and companies have been sued over using “spork” in any way, so you can kinda understand why Disney would do that for Toy Story 4‘s Forky. You can’t say the same thing about Duka Caboom though, since it’s very clear who owns Evel Knievel’s name and likeness. So yeah, Disney getting sued over this? I’d call it karma.
Disney “forgot” to get the Evel Knievel estate’s permission to use his likeness to make Toy Story 4‘s Duke Caboom, and now they’re getting into some serious legal trouble. Disney has an army of lawyers though, so they’re probably going to get out of it through some loopholes. Still though, it’ll be nice to see Disney squirm while it lasts. Too bad Pixar and Toy Story 4, one of the greatest movies of all time, are going to get caught in the crossfire though.